Henri Tessier isolated this bacterium from stool samples as part of his PhD thesis (Tissier 1900). He named the Y-shaped microorganism "Bacillus bifidus communis", which was renamed in 1924 to "Bifidobacterium bifidum". It took until 1974 that "Bifidobacterium" was recognised as independent genus (Rajilić-Stojanović and Vos 2014).

Bifidobacteria subspecies are the most prevalent bacterial species in breastfed infants, which was established at the turn or the 20th century (Moro 1900; Tissier 1900) and confirmed since. They are also a stable population of the adult gastrointestinal microflora with minimal changes in life (Rajilić-Stojanović and Vos 2014). The subspecies are non-mobile, anaerobic or microaerophilic known to lower the pH by synthesis of acetate and other short-chain fatty acids or lactate by fermentation of carbohydrates including prebiotics and human milk oligosaccharides (Rajilić-Stojanović and Vos 2014​​​​​​​​​​​​​​).